Halton Borough Council is paying tribute to the Halton residents who have stayed indoors while ‘shielding’ guidance has been in place.

The Council is also saying thank you to its staff, local volunteers and partner organisations whose efforts have put a safety net around these clinically extremely vulnerable members of the community and others who have needed support during the pandemic.

Back in March, the Government asked those who were clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus to ‘shield’, meaning they were advised not to go outdoors, even for shopping or exercise.

With the rest of the country in lockdown, this meant some people were left with no support network to help with things like food shopping or collecting prescriptions.

In Halton, there were over 7000 residents with conditions that meant they needed to stay indoors. Of these over 4000 registered with the Government to receive some form of support.

Halton Borough Council stepped up to help provide this support, contacting everyone to identify what help they needed and to put this in place.

Council staff were redeployed to make calls and deliver food parcels, arrangements were also put in place with local volunteers and with Cheshire Fire and Rescue/Cheshire Police to deliver prescriptions and provide other basic support.

A new telephone helpline was set up and with Halton and St Helen’s Voluntary & Community Action, other vulnerable residents, who though not shielding, were still in need of help, were given the support they needed.

Over this period:

  • 662 emergency food parcels provided (over and above the 1734 Government food parcel deliveries)
  • 250 people received regular welfare calls to combat loneliness
  • 463 socially distanced doorstep visits made by emergency services
  • 6457 cases actioned through the Council’s covid support team
  • 342 referrals made to the Volunteer Hub, with 100% volunteer opportunities fulfilled

Commenting on the shielding arrangements, Council Leader Cllr Rob Polhill said: “It has been a massive ask of this group of clinically extremely vulnerable people to stay at home for such a long period of time, especially for those who have not had family or friends they can call on for help. But by staying in, they were doing the right thing to keep themselves safe from the virus.

“The Council made a commitment right at the start of this pandemic that no one should be left on their own to struggle and through these arrangements and the dedication of our staff, volunteers and partners, we have been able to do this. I would like to thank everyone involved for what they have done throughout this period.” 

When shielding is paused on 1 August it will mean that those in this category can:

  • return to work – as long as their workplace is COVID-secure – but carry on working from home if they can
  • children who have been shielding can go back to school after the summer break
  • go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise – keeping two metres away wherever possible

The Council has written to all those who registered as shielded with information about ongoing support and advice that is available. It has also set out plans on how it would ‘step up’ arrangements again, should they be needed, for example if there was a local lockdown.

Chief Executive, David Parr explains: “The best way for us to avoid future outbreaks of coronavirus in Halton is for us all to follow guidance on social distancing, wear face coverings where required and to wash our hands thoroughly and often or use hand sanitiser if we are out and about.

“However, if we do need to manage an outbreak, we have put in place arrangements that mean we will be ready to react quickly to support our most vulnerable residents.”

The Council’s support line 0151 907 8363 is still open for those that continue need support as restrictions are eased. Information on support and advice that is available can also be found online at www.onehalton.uk/shieldedsupport.

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